How is Lung Cancer Treated?

There are several ways to treat lung cancer and the side effects that may accompany treatment. Each patient is different, and his or her course of treatment will be personalized. Before beginning treatment, it is important that you know:

  • the options or choices you may have
  • possible side effects
  • ways to ease the discomfort that may come with treatment

Sometimes several treatment options are used. When a treatment option is used after the first treatment, it is called adjuvant therapyTreatment given after the main type of treatment to increase the chances of cure.. This therapy is used to lower the risk that the cancer will come back. When a treatment is used before the main one to shrink the tumor, it is called neoadjuvantTreatment given before the main type of treatment to increase the chances of successful response..

This section will help you learn about the different types of treatment and their side effects so you can discuss your options with your health care team. This will help you choose the best treatment option for you. Lung cancer treatment is always changing. Ask your doctor about new and promising treatments at any point in your care. Always make sure your care team answers all of your questions to your own satisfaction.

Early detection of lung cancer can increase survival rates. Call the Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA or talk to your doctor about lung cancer screening.



Surgery may be used to remove the tumor, along with the diseased part of the lung. Surgery may be the first step of lung cancer treatment or it may be recommended after other treatments. » More

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses powerful high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. Radiation can be used before surgery to shrink the tumor. It may also be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells left in the lungs and to reduce symptoms caused by cancer. » More


Chemotherapy Patient

Chemotherapy means the use of special drugs to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. It may be used at different times throughout treatment for multiple reasons like to kill cancer cells, shrink tumors or provide relief from side effects. » More

Targeted Therapies

Fingers holding test tubes

New drugs called targeted therapies directly address the mutations that are causing the cancer cells to grow uncontrollably. These therapies may help reduce damage to healthy cells and cause less side effects by “targeting” the cancer cell mutations. » More

Other Emerging Treatments

Scientist looking through microscope

Cancer treatments are new, changing and improving. Emerging treatments like ablation therapies, photodynamic therapy and vaccine therapy provide new hope in cancer treatment. » More

Lung Cancer Clinical Trials

Doctor with elderly woman looking at computer screen

Clinical trials are carefully monitored research studies that test how well new medical approaches work in people. People who take part in clinical trials for lung cancer receive up-to-date care from experts and may receive a new or emerging treatment. You can help educate your patients about clinical trials. » More

Palliative Care

Man with outstretched hands looking to the sky

Palliative care, also called supportive care, is the medical specialty focused on relieving pain, stress and other symptoms to improve your quality of life. It does not replace your treatment, but instead works with it give you a chance to live life more comfortably. » More

End-of-Life Care

Afro-American couple smiling at the camera

A diagnosis of lung cancer can make patients and their caregivers think about end-of-life care. No one can predict exactly what will happen. It is helpful to make plans for whenever that day comes. » More

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Silhouette of a woman in a yoga stance

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) refers to the many therapies, philosophies and practices that are not considered conventional or standard. Some examples of complementary therapy included massage, yoga and acupuncture. Always discuss CAM techniques with your care team before you participate. » More